Finding Fulfillment in Retirement by Paying it Forward

Giving back, especially during the holiday season, provides opportunities to help our communities and support the causes closest to our hearts. Whether through contributions of time or money, giving back can also bring a sense of fulfillment and purpose, help bridge generation gaps, and prevent senior isolation and depression.

“Donating time and money is of course a great way to make a positive impact, but it’s also an avenue to meet people, learn new skills, and connect with your community and the world around you,” says Marci Alboher, one of the nation’s leading authorities on career issues and workplace trends. Alboher is a vice president at Encore.org, and a thought leader on second acts also known as “encores” where purpose-driven individuals can find fulfillment. That counsel is invaluable across generations, especially for those approaching retirement understand the role volunteering can play in their lives.

WATCH Your Money Map: Volunteering and charitable giving in retirement

Marci Alboher, VP at Encore.org and author of The Encore Career Handbook, joined Jean Chatzky on Your Money Map to discuss volunteering and charitable giving in retirement on December 1, 2021.

Adjust to Life without a Job Title

If you’re feeling unmoored without a job title, know that you’re in good company: many people are in transition these days, with millions of Americans leaving their jobs during the pandemic. In addition to those taking stock of new opportunities, many younger people move more freely between jobs, gigs and roles that fulfill their personal passions and interests. In fact, Alboher has coined a term for those who can’t check a box when asked, what do you do?

“Slashies refers to people who pursue multiple interests and income streams in search of a fulfilling life,” said Alboher who calls herself a non-profit leader/workplace expert/author.

“Retirement gives us all the opportunity to become slashies, and pursue multiple opportunities to give us purpose, whether it be volunteering, charitable giving, or a new job.”

Take Advantage of the Encore of Life

After leaving their full-time careers, many retirees feel as though they’ve lost their sense of purpose or motivation. Alboher suggests flipping the script.

“Rather than thinking about retirement as the end of your professional `performance’, think about it as an opportunity to try something new – to take an `encore’”.

Retirement can be an opportunity to try a different or part-time job by leveraging your current skills or learning and using new ones. It also provides ample time to volunteer with an organization you’ve always wanted to be involved with.

“Consider the skills you’ve accrued and sharpened throughout your career and reach out directly to organizations to offer those skills in a volunteer capacity,” she suggests.

If you’re interested in finding volunteer opportunities, Alboher suggests checking out online resources designed to help retirees such as Features Opportunity Finder, powered by VolunteerMatch.org, which identifies roles with youth-serving organizations that are seeking experienced talent. AARP also has a website for volunteer opportunities – Create the Good.

The best part of retirement is that you don’t have to limit yourself: you can try anything you want in the pursuit of purpose.

Tracking Your Generosity

If you’d prefer to make a financial contribution to a cause you care about, first identify which issues you feel passionately about and then look for reputable organizations who work in these areas or with towards these causes. Before writing a check, speak with a financial professional to ensure you are able to afford to donate while still staying on track in retirement, and to optimize any potential tax benefits that come from these contributions.

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